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Russia faces weaker heavy-lift capabilities by 2030

1st February 2022 - 12:11 GMT | by Alex Orlov in Riga

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Il-76MD-90A on static display at the MAKS-2019 trade show. (Photo: Viktor Bodrov)

Russia recently demonstrated its capacity for rapid military deployment in Kazakhstan but dark clouds are gathering over its airlift prospects, especially as new Antonov aircraft (and spare parts) cannot be procured from Ukraine.

According to data from the think-tank IISS, the Russian Aerospace Forces operate a fleet of 123 heavy-lift, 65 medium-lift and 225 light transport aircraft, primarily in the Military Transport Aviation arm.

The heavy-lift four-engine transport aircraft fleet comprises 11 An-124s, four An-22s and 108 Il-76 family platforms. Of the total of 123 heavy aircraft, 75 (or 61%) were involved in the recent Russian-led CSTO deployment in Kazakhstan.

The capabilities and reach of the MTA appear impressive but they may be negatively affected by a combination of factors.

Possibly the worst of these is administrative turmoil, which emerged in 2019

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